U2 frontman Bono
U2 frontman Bono | Image: Samir Hussein/Getty Images for MTV

Bono Apologises Again For Free U2 Album In New Memoir

Over eight years on from the contentious giveaway of their 13th album, Songs Of Innocence, U2 frontman Bono has apologised again for the “overreach” involved in the process. The admission arrives in Bono’s forthcoming memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story,  and through an edited pre-release excerpt shared by The Guardian.

In September 2014, U2 took the unusual step of releasing their newest album for free, automatically uploading it to every iTunes user’s account. Rather than receiving the widespread praise they expected, U2 was roundly criticised by music-lovers the world over, with Bono later admitting the band “might have gotten carried away with ourselves” when they gave away 500 million copies of the record.

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Bono recalls the event in his upcoming book, explaining how he had to convince Apple CEO Tim Cook to take the risk, after the businessman specifically questioned whether the record should be provided to all iTunes users or only to U2 fans. “You might call it vaunting ambition. Or vaulting,” Bono admits. “Critics might accuse me of overreach. It is.”

“If just getting our music to people who like our music was the idea, that was a good idea,” he added. “But if the idea was getting our music to people who might not have had a remote interest in our music, maybe there might be some pushback.”

“But what was the worst that could happen? It would be like junk mail. Wouldn’t it? Like taking our bottle of milk and leaving it on the doorstep of every house in the neighbourhood. Not. Quite. True.”

“On 9 September 2014, we didn’t just put our bottle of milk at the door but in every fridge in every house in town,” he continued. “In some cases we poured it on to the good people’s cornflakes. And some people like to pour their own milk. And others are lactose intolerant.”

Ultimately, this telling of the event sees Bono taking “full responsibility” for the stunt, absolving his bandmates, manager Guy Oseary, and Apple’s Tim Cook and Eddy Cue of any fault. “I’d thought if we could just put our music within reach of people, they might choose to reach out toward it,” he continued. “Not quite.”

“As one social media wisecracker put it, ‘Woke up this morning to find Bono in my kitchen, drinking my coffee, wearing my dressing gown, reading my paper.’ Or, less kind, ‘The free U2 album is overpriced.’ Mea culpa.”

Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story is available Tuesday, 1st November

Further Reading

Bono And The Edge Bring A Pop Up U2 Performance To Ukranian Subway Station

Netflix Are Producing A Scripted Series About U2

Bono Admits ‘Embarrassment’ Over His Own Singing Voice

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